Director Tom Hooper deploys the same style he used in The King's Speech for this much darker story about the first man to undergo gender-reassignment surgery. It's an odd mix of rather too-pretty visuals with an edgy series of events that perhaps demands a lot more raw honesty. But the story is fascinating, and the cast is excellent, delivering astute, introspective performances that reveal the much earthier narrative under the lovely surface.
It opens in 1926 Copenhagen, where husband and wife painters Einar and Gerda Wegener (Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander) are hoping to start a family as they develop their careers. One day, Gerda talks Einar into putting on a dress to pose for one of her paintings, and the experience triggers long-suppressed yearnings from his childhood. Gerda and their friend Ulla (Amber Heard) encourage him to attend a party in drag, and Lili Elbe is born, Einar's female alter ego who immediately attracts the attention of a lovelorn man (Ben Whishaw). After they move to Paris, they find another friend in Gerda's agent Hans (Matthias Schoenaerts), who was Einar's childhood pal. But while the French doctors think Einar is simply crazy, Gerda sticks by him as he decides to undergo a radical experimental surgery offered by a doctor (Sebastian Koch) in Germany.
Hooper's usual directorial flourishes include off-centre compositions, painterly sets and emotive close-ups, which bring out the internal struggles of the characters in beautiful ways. But this also has a tendency to simplify a story that is seriously complex. By emphasising the social conflicts and relational melodrama, the entire movie begins to feel rather thin, never quite grappling with the more provocative or disturbing aspects of the issues at hand. There are hints of what might have given the film an edgier kick, such as a moment of Hitchcockian obsession or the shifting of power between the male and female characters.
Continue reading: The Danish Girl Review
Sebastian Koch, Eddie Redmayne , Alicia Vikander - UK premiere of 'The Danish Girl' at the Odeon Leicester Square - Red Carpet Arrivals at Odeon Leicester Square - London, United Kingdom - Tuesday 8th December 2015
Steven Spielberg takes on the Cold War with a stately, sentimental thriller that gurgles along with quiet intensity, only occasionally finding a real spark of energy. Most intriguing, and important, is the way the film refuses to indulge in the usual moralising, allowing its characters to be complex and confused as they try to do the right thing. Even the Russians are depicted as real people rather than shady villains. And this makes what happens utterly riveting.
Set in 1957 New York, the story centres on lawyer James Donovan (Tom Hanks), who is hired to represent Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) as he is tried for being a Soviet spy. But James is fighting a losing battle against a culture that's determined to convict Rudolf, regardless of the evidence against him. Three years later, an American U-2 spy plane is shot down over Russia, and its pilot Gary Powers (Austin Stowell) captured. So now James is drafted in by the CIA to negotiate a swap: Rudolf for Gary. He heads to Berlin to orchestrate the hand-off, and there decides that he also wants the East Germans to free an American student (Will Rogers) who was wrongfully detained as the Berlin Wall was being built.
Donovan was a remarkable man who tirelessly went far beyond the call in everything he did. He's also a terrific movie character, and Hanks plays him with deadpan honesty, adding shadings to every scenes that make him easy to identify with. This is a likeable person who represents today's political ideal: a tenacious man who ignores partisan politics to do the right thing. The characters around him are less developed, although Rylance offers some strong support as an honest, perceptive man who accepts his fate with dignity. And Ryan has some pointed moments as Donovan's observant wife. All of the actors benefit from the strong screenplay by Joel and Ethan Coen and Matt Charman, which stirs plenty of edgy humour into the Cold War tensions.
Continue reading: Bridge Of Spies Review
Sometimes the law can get cause problems even for those who wrote them, particularly in the face of war. Thus, when an American spy plane is shot down while covertly photographing Russian bases, the thankfully unharmed pilot is held hostage by the foreign government. He'll only get to go home if America agrees to release their own spy, who's currently serving time in prison. Unfortunately, American law states that they can't just let a Russian spy go free without a proper appeal, and that's where James Donovan comes in. Donovan is a simple New York insurance lawyer not known for high-profile cases, but one thing he is is fair. He's asked to defend the spy and help organise the return of the American pilot, but that becomes a major sacrifice for the lawyer who now faces a struggle against some angry citizens who aren't going to let him forget it if they let the 'traitor' out of jail.
Continue: Bridge Of Spies - He's A Spy Clip
It's the height of the Cold War and things are getting tense between Russia and America. An American U-2 spy plane has been shot down while photographing Russian bases, its pilot held captive. They're willing to release him, however, if only the American government send back an imprisoned spy of their own. However, by American law, that's virtually impossible - and that's where James Donovan comes in. An insurance lawyer who's never dealt with a case of such high stakes, he is enlisted by the CIA to defend the Russian spy in court in order to have him released and sent home without charge. It seems an impossible task when the whole of America are against setting him free and indeed even neighbours turn against Donovan, targeting his family as he tries to give one man a fair trial.
Continue: Bridge Of Spies Trailer
Einar Wegener is a Danish artist, apparently happily married to wife of the same occupation Gerda. One day, Gerda persuades her husband to assist her as a female model while she paints, dressing up in a dress and stockings. An unexpected wave of clarity washes over Einar, who readily agrees to continue posing for Gerda. Dubbing the female persona Lili, Gerda takes her out for fun - but when it seems Lili is falling for her childhood friend Hans Axgil, she is heartbroken. She eventually understands that her husband is actually a woman in the wrong body, and stands by her woman as she undertakes groundbreaking gender reassignment surgery; a series of operations that could threaten her very life, let alone her marriage.
Continue: The Danish Girl Trailer
James Donovan is a simple insurance lawyer from Brooklyn, New York whose cases have never evoked too much controversy. However, all that changes quickly when he is enlisted by the CIA to defend a Russian spy in an impossible mission to have him released from prison without charge and returned home. When an American spy plane pilot is shot down during a task of photographing Russian territory, he thankfully survives; however, the angry Russian government are not planning on handing him over too easily. The only problem is, the law is very much not on the side of the Russian spy and in order for their man to be flown home, the government have to find a loophole to release their own captive. Donovan believes everyone deserves a fair trial, but he's one of very few people who do and by putting his life on the line to help his country during the Cold War, he's risking his family too.
Continue: Bridge Of Spies - International Trailer
In 1960, the hard work of many good people was tested greatly. The height of the Cold War was set to see a series of peaceful negotiation between the Americans and Russians, but a week beforehand, everything changed. An American spy plane was shot down by Russian missiles, carrying pictures of various Russian air force bases. While the US government tried to deny the charges, the Russians were able to provide the pictures, the airplane wreckage, and the pilot - miraculously unharmed. In exchange for his return, they wanted one of their captured spies to be returned. James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks), a simple lawyer, was tasked with creating a case to allow the US government to release the Soviet spy without jail time - a request that seemed almost impossible in the face of Cold War prejudice.
Continue: Bridge Of Spies - US Trailer
Oscar-nominated filmmaker Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas) continues to explore experimental styles of cinema (see Timecode or Hotel) with this playful in-joke about the act of artistic creation. It's an ambitious idea that never quite overcomes the indulgent approach, but the gimmicky touches and mysterious noir vibe hold our interest even if the characters are never very clearly developed.
At the centre is screenwriter Martin (Koch), who lectures at a London film school as his long-awaited new script is finally going into production. His daughter Sarah (Night) has landed a lead role in the film, and Martin celebrates this with her at her 25th birthday. He also becomes fascinated by her friend Angelique (Verbeek), who turns up dead in a canal the next morning, leaving him as the prime suspect. A police inspector (Cranham) is especially suspicious since Martin's wife (Fox in flashback) went missing 15 years ago. Then Angelique's twin Therese (also Verbeek) turns up to twist things further.
Figgis continually throws us out of the story by referring to the film within the film. For example, characters are continually picking up movie scripts that describe them picking up movie scripts. And Figgis further tweaks us with on-screen captions, split-screen angles and movie-set camera gags, plus of course the fact that a central character is an identical twin. But because of all of this self-referential trickery, we can never engage with the story or characters at all.
Continue reading: Suspension Of Disbelief Review
There really is no point in looking for logic in a fifth Die Hard movie; these films have become a parody of themselves, wallowing in their inane action set pieces and sassy one-liners without much concern for plot or coherence. And this is no exception. There may be the bare bones of a decent narrative here, as our hero John McClane gets in the middle of a messy spy situation. But the unsubtle filmmaking blunts everything. On the other hand, it's so committed to entertaining us that resistance is futile.
This time, John (Willis) takes an urgent trip to Moscow, where his estranged son Jack (Courtney) has been arrested for murder. But before John even gets into the courthouse, chaos erupts in the streets and John ends up on the run with Jack and Yuri (Koch), a fellow prisoner. As cars and buildings crash down around them, John discovers that Jack is actually an undercover CIA operative helping Yuri escape in exchange for a file of information about corrupt government official Viktor (Kolesnikov). As Viktor's tap-dancing goon (Bukvic) chases them into the countryside, there are a series of twists and turns that lead them to, of all places, Chernobyl.
But don't worry, an overdramatic scene establishes that the nuclear residue can be instantly eradicated by some sort of magical gas. So this frees our heroes for the usual antics involving enormous guns, mammoth explosions and lots of bad guys coming to inventively grisly ends. Along the way there's one of the most mind-bogglingly destructive car chase imaginable, like Bourne on acid, as well as a couple of preposterously fiery helicopter assaults. In between, Willis and Courtney have fun with the father-son dynamic, alternating between bitterness and emotional bonding before heading back out to "kill some scumbags".
Continue reading: A Good Day To Die Hard Review
John McClane, a trigger happy New York cop, returns in the fifth movie of the 'Die Hard' franchise. This time, the terrorists he must face are based in Moscow, Russia. He flies there after discovering that his son Jack, with whom he has been estranged for some time, has got into some trouble with the Russian law enforcement and has been arrested. It doesn't take long for it to unravel that Jack has somehow got involved with a terrorist plot that McClane must pull him out of.
'A Good Day To Die Hard' will become the gritty action film series' fifth instalment following 2007's 'Live Free or Die Hard', 1995's 'Die Hard with a Vengeance', 1990's 'Die Hard 2' and the original 'Die Hard' in 1988 that was based on the 1979 novel 'Nothing Lasts Forever' by Roderick Thorp. The previous movies have had three different directors and four different writers and this time we see director John Moore take on the role with a resume that includes 'Max Payne', 'The Omen' and 'Behind Enemy Lines'. 'Die Hard' number five has been written by Skip Woods ('Hitman', 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine', 'Swordfish') and will be released in UK cinemas on Valentine's Day next year (February 14th 2013).
Director Tom Hooper deploys the same style he used in The King's Speech for this...
Steven Spielberg takes on the Cold War with a stately, sentimental thriller that gurgles along...
It's the height of the Cold War and things are getting tense between Russia and...
Einar Wegener is a Danish artist, apparently happily married to wife of the same occupation...
James Donovan is a simple insurance lawyer from Brooklyn, New York whose cases have never...
In 1960, the hard work of many good people was tested greatly. The height of...
Oscar-nominated filmmaker Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas) continues to explore experimental styles of cinema (see...
There really is no point in looking for logic in a fifth Die Hard movie;...
John McClane, a trigger happy New York cop, returns in the fifth movie of the...
John McClane, a trigger happy New York cop, returns in the fifth movie of the...
Beautifully filmed and acted, but lacking a central perspective, this gentle comedy-drama has some nice...
With a Hitchcockian mistaken-identity plot, this film can't help but draw us into its slickly...